I'm going to officially declare the next hour or so down time for the sake of sanity if absolutely nothing else. I made a grave miscalculation when I registered for a 50 minute long class and found out soon after that all of the exams would be blue book/essay. I'm a big fan of the essay exam because I'm equally horrified by multiple choice and fill in the blank tests for stressing memorization and allowing you to ignore the structure of information (I'd call it knowledge but that would be a stretch) in favor of high scoring nuggets. Fifty minutes is not a sufficient amount of time to write three of anything. Yeah.
The only thing that wasn't related to school or work that I read today was a relatively puffy piece on Gentoo. At this point, with most of the "it's new, it's kinda hard to install, so therefore I am leet for using it" factor fading as the kids find new shiny objects to carry back nest-ward it's good to see positive coverage of any source-based distribution. I haven't found security updates lacking in my own use over the past couple of years but, then again, I don't tend to install a lot of crap that I'll never use.I think Gentoo works best this way, a slim and fast alternative to the big distro binge and purge that I often find myself working through. It beats nothing.
Gary is washing those Scientologists right out of his hair. In this case it's Beck. I have absolutely no opinion of his music because it's irresistibly forgettable Dr. Demento schlock for the alterna-thirties but I love a evisceration as much as the next fellow.
I also went through the server logs for the first time in months. I found some cool stuff that I'm going to share when I have some grep time to scan back through them but the unbelievable amount of referrer spam makes non-automated looking a chore that I'm not up to. I also fixed the image broken-ness by correcting configuring the restrictions on images. I turned off hot-linking so if something I gave you permission to do breaks for some reason please let me know here or through mail. I have absolutely no memory about those sorts of things.
Back to the less enjoyable key pounding.
Even though my mind is currently located a couple feet away from the cranial cavity it should occupy I need to mention this weirdness because it's been bothering me since I read a news bit about it on All Things Zombie:
Wretched is apparently a 'gothic zombie Western' that starts Chow Yun Fat. Yeah, I'm hoping it's a joke too.
When I've run out of time and energy for enough days in a row and can't think of a single interesting thing to tell you about I start writing recommendations about other weblogs that I read on a regular basis. I'm always a little astounded that so many people apparently read what I have to say especially since you could probably get as much continuity and depth by buying the spare changer at the bus station a plastic bottle of hootch and listening for awhile. The thing about this that bothers me the most is that I read a lot of really good weblogs on a regular basis that other people should be paying more attention to. That's allegedly what the link sidebar is all about, but minus the context of an overly verbose bit of context, I don't think it functions as much more than a static bookmark list for me when I'm not sitting at one of my own machines. Don't read my bullshit -- read these instead:
DagZine: The product of Gary Norris who I'll forgive for assigning a Horatio Alger Jr. book and recommend heartily. His take on the Ward Churchill "crisis" versus the failure of University of Colorado administration to do anything about its
student date rape association football team is worth the time spent to read it. He definitely explores a few avenues that hadn't occurred to me and this kind of investment of meditation on a Blogger blog is shocking in the best possible sense.
Festivity Carnival is another great one that I enjoy forgetting about for a couple of weeks at a time because there are so many great little slices of life woven into the entry that it's more satisfying to read in a great big dose than in daily chunks. Sometimes the tone of Bad Penny's writing makes me think a little of Studs Terkel. That's probably a terrible comparison but I do enjoy everything about that site excepting that Geoshitty color scheme. We old folks can't read that shit Penny.
I mention Bob every single time I do one of these entries. Right now this is the most recent entry and I'm reminded again why I wish he had a little more time to do those sort of brilliant brain dumps. I just looked over that post again and again I'm impressed with the apparent ease and skill that Bob employs when he has time to write.
Yeah, so, I'm bone dead tired and I can't think anymore. Go trick or treat somewhere else for a day or two. I'm going to try to recommend something new once a week or so. Now that I've said this, you'll never see anything like this here again.
Um, I should probably mention here that Midcentury is finished. Yoon decided on Sunday that she didn't want to play with us anymore for reasons too numerous to really detail here. Obviously, since we're married to one another, the split was amicable and not altogether unexpected. Jose, Dave, and I are continuing on together but under a different name and with all new songs. There will be some obvious stylistic differences because a) we're ready for a change and b) we are still without a bass player or primary vocals.
Our first practice to start writing new songs was this past Monday and went fairly well given that we've barely played over the past few months. Anyway, I'll eventually write a longer post about this over at the real Midcentury site when I get a few more free moments but this is just to quiet the rumor mill for the moment since this site gets considerably more traffic than the other. Thanks.
So, as you've read everywhere else, Hunter S. Thompson is dead. I heard the verbal equivalent to those godawful AP feeds that everyone has been linking up like they're gold fucking bullion on the news last night and for a couple of seconds I didn't really believe it. I assumed it was some variety of prank unleashed by he-who-was-once-terror-personified. Stupid assumption on my part and it turns out that indeed Mr. Thompson is in the past tense. I've been reading through absurd numbers of weblog posts and they just leave me feeling less enchanted with weblogs in general. When we own the media (my sincerest apologies to the necessary folks) we're also responsible for it being utter garbage. And by utter garbage I don't mean a bunch of stuff that I personally disagree with but more like a bunch of stuff that nobody means.
I'm glad to see that Plastic Bugs wasn't actually the target of a RIAA takedown as the digg folks thought with a couple of comments even adopting a kind of "fuck you" attitude towards Scott. No, there was no thunderous barrage of jackboots outside of his house before the "takedown." It was linked by Boing Boing, this year's Slashdot. Oops. The official word is here and the post that started all of this (which is incidentally worth your time to read) is here. Sometimes it really is just a herd of bored and easily distracted geeks and not the forces of evil. I'm just as paranoid as anyone else so I'll just be relieved about this particular instance.
Day off today so besides the usual piddling around the house and watching zombie movies I also installed Spam Karma. The comment spam was getting completely out of control and there's only so much patience I have moderating 45 near-identical comments. I'm thinking of really cranking it up so if you're a real live person trying to leave a legitimate comment then please fire off an email to goneaway at this domain name. I can't see anything broken at the moment but that means next to nothing. I've also set it up to display how many spam comments the monster has eaten. Look by the comments link on each post.
I did the WordPress upgrade last night while watching a movie. The entire process took about 40 minutes including back ups and all of usual pre-upgrade paranoia. It was an extremely smooth transition given the differences between 1.3 and 1.5. I was pretty worried about the conversion from plain old style sheets to themes but the convertor works really well and didn't make any choices that I disagree with. Things were a little rough at the start until I deleted the old index and replaced it with the new. The only other real issue that I had wasn't really an issue but a matter of CSS caching that resolved itself by refreshing the page. It was heartbreakingly easy.
There are quite a few new and useful goodies included in 1.5 like being able to manage static pages from within WordPress. The new comment handling is also really helpful with options to mark an entire page of moderated comments as spam being the highlight there. I've always loved the balance that the WP developers maintain between power, flexibility, and bloat. While the new stuff is edging into CMS territory WordPress doesn't feel like a CMS. The application is flexible as fuck without placing the responsibility of that complexity on the user. That sort of balance makes WordPress a bit of a unicorn. I've yet to find any real problems with the new version although I'm sure some folks will get fired up over the default implementation of rel=nofollow in comments. I don't have a horse in that particular race as it's an optional thing that Google came up with and although it isn't a fix it is at least movement in the right direction. I like the Dashboard feature but I think that its placement as the first page presented after you log in is probably wrong. I've already fixed this in my install but the Write page seems like the proper default to me -- a tiny quibble if there ever was one. I'll give it another week and see if any other issues come up. You should probably go download it now.
While you're doing server improvements you might as well install the Pimpzilla theme for Firefox and give your browser the kind of bling it deserves. The first time you open up the tab bar it all becomes worth it. The mouse over sparkle on the spade back and forward buttons also cracked me up. Brilliant.
I'm upgrading WordPress so things might get pretty broken. I'll post about its ups and downs when I have a minute.
I think that Anil Dash's assessment of the 'fired for weblogging' furor is on target. If you have trouble distinguishing what is and isn't appropriate for inclusion then you probably shouldn't write about your employer as yourself. This becomes more important with the rise of at will employment where you have absolutely no guarantee of protection from either your or your employer's stupidity. If you're drawn in by the reality distortion field cast by some ur-geek employer then maybe the Paradise Lost-ish banishment back into fanboy land is exactly the kind of head checking your pompous ass needs. Most companies and organizations that I've worked for (there should be a blinking candy-like disclaimer button of personal experience but I'm hoping you're smarter than that) have two systems in place that mess with this work-as-utopia fume dream that seems so contagious:
a) they already have a public relations department. You're not it and pretending to speak from any position of authority under the aegis of a company name that would sooner turn you into a steaming bowl of Soilent Green than have you soil is a suicide mission. Cover you dunce cap in a fresh layer of tin foil and call me a cynical asshole all you want but you know beneath the vagaries of break room ping pong tables and free lunches there are insectile motives of profit at work.
b) the company you work for is much less cool than you estimated. Even if you're some kind of prodigal child of paper shuffling the economy is fucked and you're cheap to replace. Until we're under an administration that isn't cartoonishly fucked up this is likely to be the case. You wanted cheap gas and more god in the legal system so smarten up asshole. You only get the good cookies if you own the company.
I sound like some kind of libertarian asshole. This means that I should probably go to bed before I start preaching the advantages of abolishing income taxes or something equally idiotic.
George Romero's site is back up. There isn't a whole lot there yet but I'm looking forward to Land of the Dead updates from the horse's mouth. We watched Bruiser tonight and there is a lot of suck to make up for in the new film. The inclusion of Dennis Hopper is already a check mark in the opposite column.
There are too many other things going on right now and I have absolutely nothing to say about any of them.
"The tedious minutia of a tedious life in too many discontinuous installments" should really be the name of this site. So:
I picked up a copy of I,Zombie and watched it a couple of hours ago. Yes, the acting is incredibly rough in places but I really enjoyed the concept. I wouldn't go as far as to say that low budget experiments are the future of horror but they're always a lot more interesting conceptually (or at least really funny) and surprisingly good with an increasing frequency. It isn't a film filled with jack in the box scares or even cringes but it's still quality discomfort. The scenes that depicted the main characters loneliness and isolation were the ones that stuck with me with the gore being minimal. Another paycheck or two down the road I'm going to have to give Dead Creatures a whirl since it's the same director and same basic premise.
I'm pretty much accustomed to the dismissive "foaming at the mouth zealots" treatment that most MSFT sympathizers give me but this editorial and the attached comments make us look like a sane bunch in comparison. All you really need to read are the first couple of comments. The first in line that manages to insult Miguel de Icaza for being from Mexico. So, I guess the plan of attack is obsolescence and offensiveness in tandem? Brilliant. I especially liked the attacks on Mono. Nothing like the rigorous intellectual arguments of the scared and running to provide a glimmering capstone for the evening.
Also make sure to check out Myths About Samba, a clarification of the techniques used in Samba development. Despite all the semantic fisticuffs in the comments about the precise definition of "reverse engineering" it is a well thought out explanation and the French Cafe analogy is a great way of explaining the finer points of reverse engineering. It's also nice to see people getting it in the sense that Samba isn't just about interoperability with Microsoft product. It's a venerable product and predates MS being much of a concern.
Google Maps is fan-fucking-tastic. Now would be the time for MapQuest to bust a move before the end is really, really nigh.
I looked at the huge list of distributions waiting for inclusion in Distro Watch for the first time in ages and Symphony OS caught my eye for a couple of reasons. Most of it has to do with the planned Mezzo desktop interface which is still in planning. Still, go look at those concept drawings and check out some of the good ideas in the works. Fnord Linux also looks kind of cool (a source-based distribution aimed at making production machines) but I could really do without the snide comments about other source distros being toy distributions. Desktop Linux Server is another good idea: a bootable CD that will quickly configure a server to host a bunch of thin clients. I've been missing a lot lately.
I'm not looking forward to the Jeeves-infused Bloglines. The purchase really brings forward something that I've been pondering for a while since the aggregation burn out is quick and difficult to get over: I've tried to link as many of the Planets up as possible over yonder in the link mess because I think they're a much more sensible method of aggregation than individually polling RSS and Atom feeds in a disorganized fashion. They're also a lot easier on the eyes. The question I'm getting to here is this: What other "organic" aggregation methods am I missing out on? I'm giving Bloglines a couple of weeks before I shut down my feeds so I'm in the market.
Anyone else notice that there wasn't a big something after the Super Bowl this year? It seems like in the past there have always been big pushes to have something better than Sunday night sitcom hell airing afterwards. I asked a bunch of people today if they could remember and no one so far has been able to. Maybe a commercial overdose is to blame?
Jesus. How many people can link to review of the mini mac without actually reading it? Apparently most of the loggers of web because I've already seen one person refer to the final paragraph as "unintentionally funny." Ouch. I guess subtlety (on the third attempt I believe I've spelled that word correctly) is on its way out. I'm amazed that so few people have picked up on it. Maybe it's the equal time given to parody of both user groups that has people so confused. My money is on the lack of comprehension but I'm mean, bitter, and hardly represented in the piss taking.
I really thought I'd missed something when I didn't catch this exchange about potentially moving some parts of OpenSolaris into Gentoo but the "official" announcement wasn't that long ago. I read this earlier at work and was all set to be completely annoyed by both the original column and the response but hours later and after a slightly closer reading I'm prepared to let it slide as a mistake. It's kind of funny to have anyone think of portage as some kind of Pac-man for code -- that it sucks it all up, mixes it willy nilly, and spits out distribution x. The original comparison to Napster, besides being woefully wrong in its understanding of both Napster and Gentoo, was probably an attempt at making a more compelling argument but it still made me furious when I first read it outside the context of the whole post. Outside of Debian, I've never seen package management that has so many jobs to do and does them with so little trouble.
I'm really, really far behind replying to mail. Insert a bunch of heart breaking excuses here and accept my apologies however insincere. By this weekend I will answer everything including the whiny bullshit that I don't even want to read. Thanks.
For some reason my Handspring Visor decided to lose its mind while slumbering peacefully in the cradle. I haven't really touched it for at least a couple of weeks and when I finally dared disturb its slumber the screen pulls up random menus in response to stylus input instead of doing anything useful like playing bad shareware games. It really is the perfect end to a day spent fixing faulty net time on any number of
The electric razor that Yoon bought for me from Woot arrived today. It is an amazing piece of design work. So amazing that I won't be able to use it, despite the inclusion of a plug (relegated to recharging batteries and apparently little else), for at least sixteen hours. Guess it's one of those next gen bathroom appliances that operates on fission or something. I'm hoping to squeeze a few man made diamonds out of it once the battery charges.
Oh, and in addition to the vague and angry pile of steaming shit I posted yesterday which had Tony wondering if I'd lost my mind: I don't condone piracy in the least. The fact that sales of Debian CDs subsidizes their piracy insurance through tax dollars about drives me crazy. Legal use of media far exceeds its illegal uses and those dollars are entirely wasted on organizations with no agenda other than sucking up more of our (consumer) dollars in any way they can. I pay for my media and use it for things that are entirely legal but I'm still paying the piracy tax. I grant you, anonymous cheapskate, a little karmic grace when you're rip-mix-and-burn-ing a few more dollars out of an industry that demands your dollars even when you don't owe them a dime. That's all I'm trying to say. The moment that our government starts paying reparations for the impact of slavery I'll shut up about this. There are so many more legitimate uses for dwindling tax dollar and none of them involve insuring corporations against projected loss.
Actually it's Tuesday now but I'm semantically unsupported and lovin' it. Very little worthy of note happened today. I guess Gawker launched a new site, Lifehacker, that I'll probably visit once in awhile since it isn't People Magazine for lifestylists. The celebrity fixation thing is unfascinating.
Silicon.com has a look at the MPAA's narc-ware that points out that the tool calls mIRC peer to peer software. Great work, folks. Pardon me while I never attend a movie again or a CD that isn't on a label with less than four employees. The war on piracy is rapidly becoming a war on the public patience. There was only so much good will in the relationship anyhow. You pay for alleged piracy every time you buy blank media. You've already paid for whatever it is that you're doing -- the potential for loss by agencies that represent products is too great so you must pay for the potential for harm. Hoist the Jolly Roger high and fire up them clients, mateys. We might not win the war but we can sure shiver some goddamn timbers for payback.